A 14-Class Truck and Tractor Pull in Illinois - Diesel World

A 14-Class Truck and Tractor Pull in the Land of Lincoln

Perhaps no other form of motorsport events had been hit as hard as truck and tractor pulling had in 2020. County and state fairs, brush pulls, and countless professionally sanctioned and organized events were all canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic, effectively spoiling hundreds upon hundreds of pullers’ summer plans. As the world struggled to find a way to return to normal, one mid-summer sled pull got our attention. Coined the Lewistown FFA Truck and Tractor Pull, it’s held in rural west-central Illinois and put together by avid truck pullers Nick Christy, his brother Sean, Jeremy Haggerty, and a small army of volunteers. With the all-clear from the Fulton County fairgrounds, the third annual affair went as planned—and with a great turnout.

Given the limited amount of truck and tractor pulls that were held in 2020, the competitors that showed up in Lewistown were chomping at the bit to get some hooks in. And hook they did, with many drivers signing up to pull in more than one class. Things got started with an 11,000-pound Farm Stock tractor class, progressed through to an 8,500-pound daily driver diesel category, followed shortly thereafter by an 8,500-pound stock turbo diesel field. Later on, big horsepower came in the form of the Work Stock diesel truck class (roughly 900 hp), 9,500-pound Pro Farm tractors (1,200 hp), and culminated with an anything-goes 8,500-pound Open class. You can find all the highlights from the days’ intense ground-pounding action in the pages that follow.

Farm Stock Tractors

Each year, the Lewistown FFA Truck and Tractor Pull gets started at noon, and on a Sunday. Just before kick-off, the 11,000-pound Farm Stocks lined up to roll across the portable scales positioned at the far side of the pits. By the time the day was through, more than 150 hooks would take place at the Fulton County Fairgrounds.

Chevrolet Duramax Sled Puller

Daytime pulls are always a challenge as far as dust is concerned. After a couple weeks of hot, dry weather, the track in Lewistown simply absorbed whatever water the crew threw at it and turned to dust once again. That said, the track was biting hard enough to eat a few driveshafts on the day.

Austin Neulinger’s 1995 GMC

Rarely does a truck pull commence without a casualty or two. Sometimes, there is even a double-whammy in the cards, but that’s the way pulling goes sometimes. When Austin Neulinger’s ’95 GMC lost four-wheel drive mid-hook, the rear driveshaft followed suit. It was placed in the bed and a tow-off tractor was summoned.

Work Stock Diesel Sled Pulling Truck

The term Work Stock has been thrown around quite a bit in truck pulling over the past 15 years. Today, Work Stock in much of the Midwest (especially Illinois and Missouri) means a lot more than the name would imply to the layman. Most of these trucks turn out more than 800 hp, and some even sit closer to the 900hp mark. The Work Stock truck class that’s sanctioned by the United Pullers of America is one of the more competitive groups of trucks in the Midwest, and a dozen of them showed up to battle for points in Lewistown.

GMC Extended Cab Shortbed Duramax

In Work Stock, trucks are allowed to run ballast or hang suitcase weights out front, and can weigh up to 8,500 pounds. Turbo selection boils down to either a stock-appearing unit or a T4 flanged S300 with a compressor wheel inducer no larger than 66mm (2.6 inches) and a map groove no bigger than 0.250-inches.

5.9L Cummins powered third gen dually truck

Being that stock-appearing turbo options have come a long way over the years, there is a nice mix of factory-based chargers vs. T4 S300’s in Work Stock. Jeremy Haggerty makes use of a stock-based Tater Built Holset on his 5.9L Cummins-powered third-gen dually—and you can always count on him finishing at or near the front of the pack. He laid claim to Fourth place in Work Stock, and his wife, Kellie, got behind the wheel in the Open class.

Classic bodied GMC Sierra 2500 HD Duramax truck

Pulling for his third day in a row on a new setup, Austin Aschemann and his classic bodied GMC Sierra 2500 HD put in a strong showing in Work Stock. His Duramax is backed up by something you don’t see much of anymore: a ZF-6 six-speed manual transmission, which in this case is also equipped with a dual disc clutch from South Bend. After Austin went 281 feet and change, he placed fifth on the day.

2006 LBZ 6.6L Duramax

One of the meaner trucks on the Illinois Work Stock circuit belongs to Nathan Beard and goes by the name “Black Betty.” The Dermody Diesel built LBZ Duramax under the hood of his ’06 Chevy spins more than 4,100 rpm and builds as much as 30-mph worth of ground speed while coming down the track. The 6.6L’s fueling needs are met with S&S Diesel Motorsport injectors and a 12mm CP3, while a reworked S366 SX-E supplies plenty of air. Nathan would finish Second in Work Stock and also take Second Place later on in the Open class.

Pro Farm Tractor Sled Puller

The UPA-sanctioned Pro Farm tractor class brought out some stiff competition. In this category, tractors are permitted a 466 ci maximum displacement and are limited to 3,500 rpm. Turbocharger selection is restricted to a 3×3-inch (compressor and turbine) with a maximum allowable map groove of 0.250-inches, but despite this competitors still manage to squeeze roughly 1,200 hp out of these earth-moving machines.

Larry McElroy’s beautiful “Bowen Bandit” IH Tractor

Competition in Pro Farm can be conducted at either 9,500 or 10,000 pounds, but the former was the case in Lewistown. Unlike the truck classes that ran throughout the day, mechanical injection reigns supreme here. P7100 model Bosch P-pumps with up to 13mm plungers are allowed, but 8000 series pumps are not. Larry McElroy’s beautiful “Bowen Bandit” IH can be seen making its Fifth Place, 303.25-foot pass here.

Hunter Thompson's Chain Smokin’ II 966 model International

One final fun fact about the 9,500 Pro Farms is that these tractors make their 1,200 hp without the aid of an intercooler. Both air-to-air and water-to-air units are prohibited. Only water injection is permitted, which competitors use to keep both intake and exhaust temps from sky-rocketing. Hunter Thompson didn’t seem to have any issues in the Chain Smokin’ II 966 model International, ultimately dragging the sled 291.39 feet.

Mark Roberts' 4455 model John Deere tractor “Force-N-It.”

As one might imagine, Internationals are a popular choice in 9,500-pound Pro Farm, but plenty of John Deere tractors get in on the fun also. Here, Mark Roberts—no stranger to the winner’s circle— digs his way to a 309.55-foot First Place aboard his 4455 model, a tractor he calls “Force-N-It.”

CASE IH FARMALL 70A

A good track starts with a solid crew and skilled operators. Taking charge for the third year in a row, at least Craig Brooks was handed a formal uniform to wear (the back of his T-shirt reads: “Track Master”). After spending a quarter of a century behind the wheel of a tractor, he has a knack for prepping the perfect pulling surface for other competitors. His fast-pace and attention to detail help keep the tempo of the event moving and the track as consistent as possible.

Farm Stock Tractor Puller

A 12,500-pound Farm Stock category yielded a solid turnout. Tractors competing in this class are limited to a maximum of 2,850 rpm, a 466 ci displacement cap (or the factory size for any engine make that left the factory larger than 466 ci), factory Ag intake components, aren’t permitted to run an intercooler, and can only run the stock 3LM turbo. That means zero turbo modifications whatsoever—and the turbos themselves are in fact sealed.

Farm Stock Class

The day’s festivities began with the 11,000-pound Farm Stock tractor class, which called for a top speed limit of 12 mph and a 2,850- rpm maximum. A portable device that measured this (and which was ingeniously built by event organizer Nick Christy) was mounted to each tractor prior to its 12-mph voyage down the track.

Nate Shank’s Ford TW-20

You definitely don’t see a lot of Fords in tractor pulling, and Nate Shank’s TW-20 is about as immaculate as they come—all the way down to the Ford weights he runs. We’re told he farms with a fleet of older Fords and even restores tractors on top of that. In Lewistown, his beautiful blue machine ended up with First Place money after lugging the sled 289.48-feet.

Jake Meisner’s old IH 1066

Jake Meisner’s old IH 1066 was up to the task in the 11,000-pound Farm Stock class. He and his red machine (wittingly coined “Blowin’ Smoke Rings in the Dark”) moved the sled 270.53-feet, which was good enough for Sixth Place in a field of 16 tractors.

Chad Terwilliger's ’68 International 1256

Don’t mistake the lower horsepower tractor classes as lacking excitement. These 12-mph machines might not have ground speed on their side, but they can certainly carry the front-end down the track. Such was the case for Chad Terwilliger, at least for a time, aboard his ’68 International 1256. Chad went 256.18-feet on this trip down the track.